This morning, I read an amusing article on how squeamish our society is about women’s undergarments and the etceteras. Etceteras, as in all the things related to women. I mean, those you-know-whats, and those other you-know-whats, as well! And, it reminded me of all those times when this squeamishness was highly palpable, even to the teenaged me, who wondered what the fuss was all about!
I remember how, as a big girl, I had to hide my stuff from the world. The undergarments, the sanitary napkins, all of it had to be shoved to the back of my shelf in the cupboard, lest it presented its ugly self to the world and polluted the serenity around. Do you remember, how in the olden days a Brahmin would get ‘polluted’ if touched by a person from the lower caste? Yes, just like that. Our lady-items have the potential to contaminate the virtuous world around us.
If a bra or a panty happens to be lying around in our room, then… “Why is that thing of yours lying around like that? CLEAR UP QUICK! And, please put those to dry in the corner on the clothes line. We don’t want those to flutter like flags and attract everyone’s attention, do we?” No fingers get wagged, though, if the male members of our family leave their undies lying all over the place! It’s still not accepted that we women have been blessed with a body, and that we cover ourselves well, so yes, we, too, wear undergarments, that’s all!
A firebrand colleague once reprimanded her husband and her son for strewing their undies all over the house. If she found their clothes lying around everywhere, she threatened, she would leave her inner wear lying all over, too! It had the necessary effect on her menfolk. They only had to visualise her bras and panties scattered around the house and guests dropping in unannounced! Serves them right.
I remember, as young girls, whenever our bra-strap peeped from under our outfits, our girlfriends would quickly push it back in, saying, “hey, your boyfriend/mother-in-law is peeping!” Hilarious, I know! But, I never see men doing that. They roam about in their vests and their boxer shorts all the time. Heaven forbid if a woman was to move about in her house dressed in a vest and a pair of shorts. “Chhi chhi! Have you no shame, at all? Go, cover up!” we hear. Even during the scorching months of summer we have to be dressed in layers of clothing, while the men, they can gallivant round town in anything they please!
Sanitary napkins and their mention has a weird effect on the salesmen at the chemist. The guy at my neighbourhood chemist acts as if I were asking for my monthly drugs supply! Drugs, as in marijuana, et al. I enter the shop, the guy comes over and enquires what it is that I need. And, the moment I mention the name of a sanitary napkin, he lowers his tone to almost a whisper. “Yes, ma’am, which one do you need? The green packet of the ABC company, or the blue packet of the XYZ company?” he asks, surreptitiously. And, no sooner do I point out to the one I need than he hurries to pick it up from the showcase, wrap it in a newspaper, secure it with a string and then drop it in a black polythene bag. BLACK, mind you, not the transparent one which he uses to pack medicines in.
Ditto for the salesmen at the undergarments counter. Albeit, these guys are at the other end of the spectrum. There’s no embarrassment on their faces, but the transactions do take place in hushed tones. I find it tremendously embarrassing asking for lingerie at a store which hasn’t appointed a woman at these counters. The men – they unabashedly size us up and bring out the stuff even before we open our mouth to mention our requirement! Don’t they, ladies? I do get riled by their crass behaviour, but at times, I wish the men in our homes would also treat these items of clothing as just that – items of clothing. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing to be ashamed of.
So, what IS it about our lingerie and our period-stuff that is so repellant? Why can’t it be accepted that half the world’s population has been blessed with body parts slightly differing in proportions and appearance, and that those need to be covered, and that’s why those undergarments? Those are just garments, for heaven’s sake! Or, shouldn’t we be wearing any? Will THAT put them at ease? Tee-hee!
When I ponder over it all, it gives me a feeling that women, as a ‘species’, are an embarrassment to the society, and that embarrassment is what gets attached to everything related to women. And, thus all the fuss about everything women.
I could rant on about this vexation, but I guess I have to curtail the urge to go overboard. So, I will stop here, for now.
Maybe you could share with me experiences that left you fuming at the silliness of people’s behaviour towards the, you know, lady-items. We could have a few laughs, maybe, for it’s really pointless vexing over things you can’t change, ever. And, laughter is always the best medicine, so, let’s share a few laughs and have a good time poking fun at society and its pea-sized brain.
What say you?